Title: Guitar Hero
Author: Alicia K.
Spoilers: Requiem
Rating: PG
Category: H
Distribution: Please ask. I almost always say yes.

Summary: Mulder's been returned, but with a new . . . uh, quirk.

Notes: I seem to have an adverse reaction to writing angst: These silly little stories pop into my head and demand to be written. So while I slave over my Angst-in-Progress this summer, you may be subjected to more of these weird things. Apologies in advance.

Insightful beta by Punk, Dreamshaper, and Epur. Any mistakes and poor grammar are mine and mine alone.

By now, Scully was used to being awakened by ringing phones in the middle of the night. After five months of searching for Mulder, she now waited for the phone to ring, waited for any news, was always ready.

So when the call came, she reacted quickly and snatched up the phone on the second ring. "Scully," she said tersely.

"Agent Scully." Skinner's voice was tight, excited. "We found him."

For a woman seven months pregnant, Scully moved with unprecedented speed. Through the emergency room doors and down the hall, she marched past anyone and everyone who wasn't Skinner.

"Agent Scully!" Skinner emerged from a room ahead. As she quickened her pace down the hall, she studied her boss's face, looking for clues. He was frowning, but not upset; Mulder wasn't dead.

"Sir!" Breathless from her speedy entrance, she stopped beside him. "Where's Mulder? Is he all right?" A puzzled expression crossed her face. Where was that music coming from?

"He appears to be physically fine."

"Who brought him here?" And who was that singing?

Skinner frowned and scratched his chin. "He says the only thing he remembers is walking to the hospital and checking himself in."

"But ... I don't ... why the hell is there music coming from his room?"

Scully moved around Skinner to look through the small window in the door. There was Mulder, sitting up in the bed, apparently healthy, happy, and ...

"Why does Mulder have a guitar?"

Skinner sighed. "He brought it with him. When the admitting nurse tried to take it from him, he protested. Violently."

Scully watched as Mulder competently strummed the acoustic guitar and sang. He looked happy as a clam.

"That's not Mulder," she announced. "Mulder couldn't play the guitar if his life depended on it."

Skinner sighed again. "It's him, Scully. We ran blood tests."

"How long has he *been* here?"

"I wanted to be sure it was him before I called you," he explained, looking uncomfortable. "It's him," he repeated softly. "He's home."

Scully swallowed past the lump in her throat. "I need to see him."

Mulder looked up expectantly when the door opened. "Scully!"

She hurried to his side and hugged him awkwardly, the guitar and her belly getting in the way. "Mulder," she breathed, pressing her lips to his temple. "Mulder, I'm so glad you're home."

Mulder pulled out of her embrace to smile at her. "Did you see my guitar?"

She frowned. "Where did you get it?"

He strummed a happy chord. "I don't know. I had it when I got here. But isn't it cool?"

"Yeah, Mulder, it's great." She reached for it. "Why don't you let me ..."

"NO!" he yelled, yanking it out of her reach. While she gaped at him in surprise, he finally noticed her condition.

"Scully ..." he breathed, awe in his voice. "Is it ...?"

She smiled at him and sat on the edge of the bed. "Yes, Mulder." She took his hand and placed it over their child. "Two more months. You got back just in time."

"Oh, Scully, that's ..." Again, he pulled away to turn his attention back to the guitar. He strummed a few chords, looked at her with dripping adoration, and began to croon:

"You fill up my senses Like a night in the forest. Like a mountain in springtime Like a walk in the rain!"

Eyes wide, Scully stood and backed away slowly.

"Like a storm in the desert Like a sleepy blue ocean You fill up my senses Come fill me again!"

She slammed the door behind her and stared at Skinner in horror. "What did they *do* to him?"

Scully returned to the hospital the next morning to take him home. She had decided that Mulder was merely suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and would snap out of it soon enough.

Or not soon enough, she amended with a wince as she heard his off-key singing from down the hall.

"It's the hammer of justice! It's the song of freedom! It's a song about love between my brothers and my sisters All over this land!"

Scully poked her head around the door frame and saw a room full of people. A few applauded, but several had their fingers in their ears. One man in a wheelchair bluntly told Mulder exactly how much his singing sucked.

Scully intervened when Mulder's face crumpled in disappointment. "Okay, folks. Show's over."

"Thank God," someone muttered.

The audience members who had clapped shuffled out of the room; as they passed Scully, all three were fiddling with their hearing aids.

The critic in the wheelchair stopped at the door. "You know, the nurses brought us in here to hear some songs, but after four Peter, Paul and Mary songs and an extended version of 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,' I'd say he's a damn good argument for euthanasia."

Scully grimaced.

"Hey, Scully," Mulder beamed. "Got any requests?"

She walked over and sat next to him on the bed, her hand on his arm. "Mulder, do know what they did to you?"

"No, but if you hum a few bars ..."

Scully counted to ten and reminded herself that she was very blessed to have him back at all.

She drove him straight to the Gunmen's. They'd definitely want to see him, and besides -- maybe they would be able to unearth the source of this musical lunacy.

Hell, she figured, even a deep-seated dream of being Elvis would be better than nothing at all.

She rang the buzzer and waited. And waited. She rolled her eyes; if SHE looked out her window and saw a pregnant woman and a man with a guitar singing 'Blowin' In the Wind,' she'd hide, too.

"Guys!" she yelled into the intercom. "Let us in NOW."

When the door opened, she pushed her way inside before Langly could speak. "Yes, it's really him; no, I don't know what the hell's wrong with him; and yes, he really does sound that awful."

As Mulder and the Gunmen had a joyful, tuneful reunion, she showed herself to the bathroom. After relieving her poor, overworked bladder, she stayed there for a minute, trying to fit this latest piece into the crazy puzzle of her life.

When she came out, the Gunmen were standing in the middle of the room gawking at Mulder, who was strumming away merrily:

"Do -- a deer, a female deer! Re -- a drop of golden sun!"

"Do you think he was programmed to do this?" Byers asked.

"Mi -- a name I call myself! Fa -- a long long way to run!"

Frohike looked almost amused. "What else've you got, Mulder?"

Mulder paused only for a moment before:

"You light up my life! You give me hope to carry on!"

Scully had had enough. "Mulder, can it!" Mulder stopped, startled by her yelling. She pointed at the Gunmen. "You guys -- quit egging him on and help me figure out what the hell's wrong with him!"

As he turned away, Langly muttered, "They should have programmed him to sing in tune."

At three, Scully dragged her pregnant self into the office, Mulder in tow and under strict instruction to "Play quietly."

While she rifled through her files, looking for anything she could that might give her one iota of inspiration, Mulder sat behind his desk, softly singing 'Country Roads, Take Me Home.'

It might have been soothing, had he not been tone deaf.

Two hours with the Gunmen, and they had not been able to deduce anything useful. If she didn't find anything here, she was going to stick with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder theory. If that wasn't it, she was going to smash the guitar over his head.

She lowered herself carefully into her chair with a groan and pulled a fresh stack of files toward her. She didn't look up until the silence hit her like a slap.

"Mulder?" she asked, afraid to look up and find him in a catatonic state.

But no, he was alert, scratching at the inside of his right elbow. "I lost my lucky pick," he said forlornly.

"We'll get you another one," she sighed. When he continued scratching the same spot, a light bulb began to spark to life in her tired brain, and she got up.

"It itches," he announced, holding out his arm for her to inspect.

Peering down at his elbow, she noted with a gasp that not only was the skin red from irritation, but there appeared to be a tiny scar just at the crease.

She grabbed his hand. "Come with me," she commanded, turning to go before he was even on his feet.

"Where are we going?"

"Upstairs. I have an idea."

He resisted, tugging on her hand as she practically pulled him down the hall. "But I want to play you a song!"

"Later," she snapped, punching at the elevator buttons.

They were thankfully alone in the elevator, saving her the embarrassment of someone witnessing this serenade.

"Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea. And frolicked in the autumn mist, in a land called Honilee!"

When they reached the lobby, she grabbed his hand from the guitar, ignoring his shout of protest. She ignored the stares, trying not to think of how they must look: a pregnant agent pulling a six-foot tall man carrying a guitar.

"John!" she called, and the security guard turned around.

"Agent Scully? What's going on?"

"I need your scanner," she demanded, holding out her free hand.

"Okay, but ..."

She grabbed it from him and flicked it on, running it over Mulder's exposed elbow. "Ah-HA!" she exclaimed triumphantly when it beeped.

"What is it?" Mulder asked, scratching again.

"Mulder, your days as a troubadour are numbered."

"So he had a *chip*?" Skinner asked increduously.

She nodded. "Right in his elbow. Different than mine," she added, hoping that it meant all the things that should have meant. "I took it out myself but brought him in, just in case there was an adverse reaction to its removal."

"But he's okay now?"

With a small smile, she turned back to watch Mulder through the glass. "He's still sleeping, but yeah, everything seems to be fine."

"I wonder what they were trying to do."

She shrugged. "Drive me crazy? Who knows. I'm not even going to think about it."

And all was well. Mulder woke up, and they had their reunion at his bedside, much like so many others.

He had no recollection of the guitar.

"Hey, Scully?"

She crawled under the covers and into his open arms. "Yes?"

He bent his head to kiss her slowly. "You are so beautiful."

"You won't say that after I wake you when I get up to pee fifty times tonight."

He chuckled. "Doubt it. Turn over."

She did, sighing contentedly as he nuzzled her ear and caressed her belly. She had missed this, she had missed him so much ...

"Hey, Scully," he whispered, sending a shiver down her spine with a brush of his lips.

"Yeah?" she whispered back.

He placed a tiny kiss on her ear and began to sing:

"You're having my baby, What a lovely way to say how much you love me ... OW!"

"Sorry," she lied.



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